Review: Die Hard: With A Vengeance (1995)


Die Hard: With A Vengeance (1995)

Directed by: John McTiernan | 131 minutes | action, thriller, adventure, crime | Actors: Bruce Willis, Jeremy Irons, Samuel L. Jackson, Graham Greene, Colleen Camp, Larry Bryggman, Anthony Peck, Nicholas Wyman, Sam Phillips, Kevin Chamberlin, Sharon Washington, Stephen Pearlman, Michael Alexander Jackson, Aldis Hodge, Mischa Hausserman, Edwin Hodge, Robert Sedgwick, Tony Halme, Bill Christ, Michael Lee Merrins, Birdie M. Hale, Daryl Edwards, Barbara Hipkiss, Aasif Mandvi, Bill Kux, Scott Nicholson, Ralph Buckley, Charles Dumas, Michael Cristofer, Phyllis Yvonne Stickney, JR Horne, Michael Tadross, Elvis Duran, John McTiernan Sr, Greg A. Skoric, Sven Toorvald, Todd A. Langenfeld, Timothy Adams, John C. Vennema, Gerrit Vooren, Willis Sparks

This second sequel to the action classic ‘Die Hard’ disappoints somewhat compared to its predecessors. Director John McTiernan, who also helmed part 1, returns and delivers with his signature visual flair with plenty of chases, shootings and explosions. The messy script full of holes is the most serious handicap, which – for all the spectacle – is not completely overcome. Originally intended as the fourth installment in the ‘Lethal Weapon’ series, the story has been edited so that it can be used for this film. Nevertheless, with that knowledge in mind, some plot elements can be traced back to those other successful series of films. There are also remarkable tempo changes, which sometimes cause the film to drop dangerously long and where the first two films progressed to a satisfying climax, the denouement here is simply disappointing. It may not be fair to put all the blame on writer Jonathan Hensleigh, but his resume gives a good indication of his talent.

Is there nothing positive to say about ‘Die Hard: with a Vengeance? Of course you do. The action and stunts are expertly executed (except for a disturbing special effect of mediocre quality) and offers enough beauty to entertain the not too critical viewer. Willis is, of course, back on track as John McClane, the role that is perfect for him. He gets a welcome side-kick here in the person of the always reliable Samuel L. Jackson. The latter plays store owner Zeus Carver, who must rescue McClane from a Harlem street gang. This was the terrorist Simon (Jeremy Irons)’s first assignment McClane has to carry out, and thanks to Carver’s help, Simon is forced to join the game. The purpose of Simon’s actions through the game “Simon says” seems to be to have McClane run all over the city of New York to solve all kinds of puzzles and riddles. Why Simon does this only becomes clear later when it turns out that he has personal motives. Irons is a fun movie villain with a beautiful voice (think of his Scar in ‘The Lion King’) but by making a connection with Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber in ‘Die Hard’, the two are compared – and not in Irons’ favor. Furthermore, he is a great opponent for John McClane, also given the accomplices he has with him. Of course a lot of wardrobes that are welcome targets (after all, someone has to “die hard”), but also singer Sam Philips as the tough Katya and Nicholas Wyman as Targo. The latter in particular has a tense fight with McClane, reminiscent of the brawl with Karl in part one. Although he is plagued by a hefty hangover, McClane continues to throw one-liners around and he gets to argue with Jackson about which of them is the biggest racist. Verbal fireworks are well spent on Jackson and he makes the most of them. For example, McClane is no longer the loner, but has acquired a partner who has ventured into him and who also solves quite a few riddles along the way. Incidentally, the excellent supporting actors give color to shallow and clichéd characters, especially Greene as the somewhat gruff-looking police officer Lambert.

With ‘Die Hard: With a Vengeance’ the viewer will not get bored easily, it is a very entertaining action film. More than average as a standalone film, but perhaps not quite worth it as a ‘Die Hard’ film. Better watch part 1 again.

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